US intercepted communications between Syrian Army, chemical experts prior to Idlib attack

The U.S. intercepted communications between Syrian Army officers and chemical experts who were discussing a chemical attack before the deadly attack in Idlib was carried out, according to a senior-level U.S. official. While the communications were intercepted before the attack, they were only reviewed a few hours after the attack in order to confirm that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was behind it.
Idlib, after the attack Photo Credit: Reuters/Channel 2 News

While the tensions between Russia and the U.S. continue to grow following the American missile strike in Syria, new details about the Idlib chemical attack are being revealed. A senior-level U.S. official told CNN on Thursday morning that U.S. intelligence officials had intercepted conversations between the Syrian Army officers and chemical experts, which took place prior to the sarin gas attack that claimed the lives of dozens of people.

According to the source, the intercepts were reviewed a few hours after the chemical attack in order to confirm that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime was responsible for it. After the intelligence was gathered, U.S. officials said that there is “no doubt” that Assad was responsible for the deadly chemical attack on his own people.

The official also told CNN that while the intelligence was the basis for the U.S. missile strike near Homs, the U.S. did not have any prior intelligence indicating that Assad was planning to carry out a chemical attack. He said that the intercepts were part of communications that are regularly collected from areas such as Syria and Iraq and the material is not processed unless there is an unordinary event, such as the Idlib attack, which requires analysts to go back and examine the communications.

So far, no evidence indicating that Russia was involved in the attack or knew about it in advance has been discovered. The senior-level U.S. official said that it appears that Russian intelligence officials were very careful with their communications, unlike the Syrian Army. However, Moscow has denied all allegations of involvement in the attack.

To read more about the Idlib chemical attack, click here

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